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Arriving in the U.S.

Once you have arrived in the U.S., you will need to register and attend mandatory orientation with ISEO. The registration process will allow ISEO to validate your record in SEVIS with the Department of State as well as review your immigration documents issued for entry to the U.S. The mandatory J-1 orientation session that will help answer most of your questions about your program and resources for your stay in the U.S. 

You can find more information about the registration process and orientation sessions below, along with other information about settling into your routine as an international scholar at UC San Diego.


ISEO registration and orientation is required by the Department of State; this is separate from any registration and orientation your sponsoring UC San Diego Department may require.

Register at ISEO

All new J-1 Scholars must register with the International Services and Engagement Office upon arrival in the U.S.

Closer to your program start date, J-1 scholars will receive an email from ISEO with a reminder to register. The registration process is completed online via iServices; when you register with our office, you will have to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in San Diego and documents used for entry into the U.S. Please note, this registration is only for our office and needed to validate your J-1 record. You may also need to check in and register with your department as well.

J-1 scholars that are transferring their J-1 status from another U.S. institution should email their advisor to set up an appointment with an advisor. The advisor will register your record and email you your new DS-2019 from UCSD on the date of your transfer. You must print all pages of the DS-2019 and sign the acknowledgement at the bottom of page 1 that confirms you have read and understand the information on page 2.

Attend Mandatory J-1 Orientation

Orientation is required for all new J-1 Scholars at UC San Diego, new J-1 programs and those transferring to UC San Diego. You will receive an email from ISEO with instructions regarding how to attend an online orientation.

There are many regulations and requirements pertaining to your J-1 visa status and orientation is an opportunity to learn about these requirements so that violations of your visa status do not occur. The J-1 orientation is different from other orientations you may also be required to attend; such as the postdoc orientation.

J-1 Orientation
Mandatory J-1 Orientations are being held virtually via Zoom. Orientation sessions begin at 9:30 a.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month (excluding holidays). We will email you the information, however feel free to email for specific dates and Zoom meeting information.

Complete Your Glacier Record (J-1 Paid Employees Only)

The Glacier Online Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance System ("Glacier") allows UC San Diego to collect tax-related information, including treaty eligibility, from international scholars paid by UC San Diego to properly tax and report payments and/or benefits. If you have not received an email request to complete your Glacier record, reach out to your departmental administrator to request their help. If you are unpaid and receiving no benefits from UC San Diego, you do not need to complete a Glacier record.

Apply for a Social Security Card


J-1 Scholars must first register with ISEO to have their record validated before they apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you apply for the SSN before you have been validated by ISEO this could lead to delays or a denial.

Sample image of SSN

We recommend that you wait 10 days after entering the United States and 5 days after completing the registration process at the International Services and Engagement Office (ISEO) to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). When you register with ISEO, your advisor will update the Department of State records, so the 5 days allows for the system to be updated before you apply for a SSN. Generally, all J-1 scholars in the Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, and Professor categories are automatically eligible to apply for an SSN. J-1 Student Interns are only eligible if they are being paid by UCSD. Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card

The following documents are required to apply for a Social Security card:
  • Completed Social Security Form
  • Passport
  • Form I-94 record printed from the USCBP website and/or admission entry stamp in the passport.
  • Additional documents by status:
    • J-1 scholars (non-Student Intern category): DS-2019 form
      • The Research Scholar, Short-Term and Professor categories do not need an employer letter to be eligible for a social security number, Section 4 of the DS-2019 shows your J-1 category. Only student interns need an employment letter.
      • The Social Security Office may confuse your request with a category that does require an employer letter. We encourage you to print out the Social Security Program Operations Manual System (POMS) which shows that your category does not require an employer letter to be eligible for a social security number:
      • Social Security Program Operations Manual System (POMS) - RM 10211.345 "Section A" lists the categories that do not require an employer letter: 
    • J-1 scholars - Student Intern category: employment letter from ISEO advisor; contact your advisor or for this letter
    • J-2 dependents: qualify only when they apply for J-2 Employment. J-2 dependents can apply for work authorization and a social security number at the same time.
  • OPTIONAL: SSA recently issued an message to all its offices and technicians instructing Social Security field offices to accept digital signatures on Forms DS-2019 as part of exchange visitors’ SSN applications. We encourage those who are applying for SSNs to bring a copy of this message when applying. Click here to access a copy of the Message.

If you experience any SSN related issued due to digital signatures on Form DS-2019, please notify your ISEO advisor.

The local San Diego Social Security Office has indicated that you can only receive services from the social security office your zip code is assigned to. This is based on your local/home/residential San Diego address, not your work address. To determine which Social Security Office that provides you services: 

More detailed information regarding the application process can be found on our identification documents webpage.

Apply for a Driver's License

The State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not recognize international drivers’ licenses. The State of California, however, does recognize your national driver license as long as it is valid and translated to English. Although the law is ambiguous when dealing with international visitors we recommend that, if you plan to drive, you get a California driver’s license immediately to avoid the risk of a traffic citation. Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States. Most insurance companies require a valid California driver’s license

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a written test and a road test. No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test.

Scholars in J-1 status must have a social security number in order to apply for a license. Dependents must either show proof of ineligibility by getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration or apply for a number, if eligible prior to applying for a license.

Temporary permits can be renewed until the card is received.

More information can be found on our identification documents webpage.

Apply for a Campus Card

To obtain a UC San Diego ID card, ask your department for assistance. A department administrator needs to determine your eligibility and complete the request with a Campus Card Request Form. 

More information visit ISEO's Identification Documents webpage.


Confirm Health Insurance Coverage

The U.S. Department of State regulations require that visitors in J-1 and J-2 statuses maintain proper insurance coverage as a condition of their participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. [See 1(f) on back of the DS-2019].

As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, we will require proof of your health insurance coverage. See our health insurance page for more information on submitting your proof of enrollment.

For questions regarding the health insurance requirement contact

Welcome to UC San Diego, visit our Maintaining Your J-1 Status webpage for information to help you maintain your J-1 status.